At the event, Minister Cuong
spoke highly of the cooperation developments between Vietnam and the EU,
particularly in terms of investment.
In the field of sustainable
development, the EU is considered Vietnam’s top development partner with the
two main pillars of maritime economy and forest development.
The EU issued a “yellow card”
warning for Vietnam in 2017 for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU)
fishing; along with nine recommendations to help the country develop more
Cuong said that after the EU made
the nine recommendations, Vietnam was quick to complete its national
institutions and laws, including the new Law on Fisheries, which has put the
nine recommendations into a solid legal framework.
Vietnam has also paid attention
to forestry development. Currently, the country has 14 million hectares of
forests, with forest coverage reaching 41.65 percent – a high rate both
regionally and globally.
The country is building up its
forestry economy with the participation of some 4,500 relevant enterprises.
Last year, the sector enjoyed an export turnover of over 9 billion USD, he
However, Cuong noted that the
sector is still facing several weaknesses, including low productivity, small
number of enterprises participating in the forestry chain, and the relatively
small area of forests that have received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
The signing of the Voluntary
Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade
(VPA/FLEGT) between Vietnam and the EU offers a chance for the Southeast Asian
nation to restructure the sector towards a transparent production chain, from
materials to processing and trading, Cuong stressed.
Heidi Hautala said that EU
consumers are paying greater attention to the origin of products. Therefore,
the responsibility and role of the private enterprises are becoming more and
The VPA/FLEGT with Vietnam is the
second agreement the EU has signed in Asia, following a pact with Indonesia,
she stated, adding that this is an important step by the EU towards building a
broader strategy to intensify biodiversity and sustainable development in Asia,
as well as fighting illegal timber exploitation and trading.
She said that the agreement will
encourage transparency and have pervasive effects on the production chain with
the EU and nations around the world as the EU has signed similar agreements
with 16 other countries.
The EU is working to soon ratify
the agreement with Vietnam, she added.